July 22, 2018
We were back at the Kab Visitor Center early the next morning to finish our exploration and check in for our boat tour. Like I mentioned, there is a waiting list so if you booked but arrive late, you get bumped. The wait list people were lined along the wall hoping someone was late. We also saw people walk in expecting to get right into the tour that had been booked up for months so this is definitely a pre-planning item if you wish to go.
Preliminaries settled, we were off to Canada! Sort of. We took the Ranger led Kettle Falls Boat Tour out of Kabetogama Visitor Center. Our Ranger was very good and gave us all kinds of history and information about Voyageurs. It was a long tour with lots of stops for eagle watching. The young had just fledged and we saw a few clinging to the nest, a few on the ground, and a few that had rolled out to sit on other trees. Pretty much all of them were looking around and seemed to be thinking “What do I do now?” The adults were nearby to either render assistance or maybe guard the newly empty nest… from their chicks. Time to fly little ones!
It was a beautiful day on the lake and the Ranger kept his eyes out for wildlife. We spotted a pelican and lots of gulls chilling on a barren island. The ranger said the birds had been using the island as a rookery for years.
The boat docks at the Kettle Falls Hotel. This is a functioning hotel. You can book a room and pay for transport if you don’t have your own boat. There was a family reunion group there when we toured through. Many were enjoying the comfortable chairs on that beautiful screened porch that runs the front of the building.
One hotel quirk is the barroom floor. The hotel is built on pilings and for some reason, the bar room took a tilt. Chloe was excited to finally be taller than Grandma! I’m sure the floor would be a very effective drunk test. If you wind up in the lap of somebody you don’t know, it’s time to go. I was a bit curious how you manage your drinks on a table that tilts enough for things to slide but we chose food in the dining room instead of bar beverages so we didn’t test it out.
Your time on land is your own. You can hang out, picnic, take a short hike, wander the public areas of the hotel, get lunch and buy ice cream before the Ranger gathers you up again for a program at the falls themselves.
After the program, you pile back onto the boat and head for the mainland. At one point on the tour the Ranger informed us that we were in Canada. He joked that he hoped we had our passports with us (we did not). Then he explained you can FLOAT into Canada without it being a border crossing but if you touch land, even by dropping anchor, you are officially in Canada and subject to customs regulations. Both Lake Kabetogama and Rainy Lake are split by the International border. So how do you know which country you are in? By sighting the border markers.
On land, the markers are single numbered obelisks sitting on the border itself. That doesn’t work on a lake so the obelisks are paired with matching numbers on the shore of the lake in each country. The border lies dead center between them. The international border through the lake is basically the route the Voyageurs took on their way through the area. It was their water highway. Since Chloe had learned about the Voyageurs and finished her Junior Ranger book before the tour, the Ranger swore her in on the boat as we traveled on the Voyageurs water highway and while we were in Canada! The whole boat applauded and cheered her on.
J & H